Webster Arts unveils ‘Spring Forward’

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Stroll down East Lockwood and check out the art.

If you have traveled down East Lockwood Avenue recently, you’ve probably noticed a group of uniquely shaped and vibrant pieces of art … what’s that all about?

It’s called “Spring Forward,” an outdoor art exhibition designed to challenge the community to be creative following a year of COVID-19 guidelines, sheltering in place and for many, isolation.

“In a year full of digital experiences, this exhibition gave us the opportunity to engage with our community in a more personal way,” said Jenny Donaldson, executive director of Webster Arts. “We hope people walk through the exhibit and walk away with a sense of optimism for the future.”

Webster Arts invited the public to participate by turning in artwork to be included in the exhibit. Everyone was given a piece of plywood and instructed to turn it into something creative. Along with opening the exhibit to participants beyond Webster Groves, there were no restrictions on who could enter or what they could submit.

Participants as young as 5 years old to senior citizens responded to the challenge by transforming each simple wooden trapezoid piece into a work of art.

Webster Arts participants’ artworks can be seen on the corner of East Bompart Avenue and Lockwood Avenue. Photo by Craig Reynolds.

The art that came back wasn’t only beautiful but represented different styles of execution. The 47 submissions ranged from abstract collages to hyper-realistic portraits to 3D models.

There is truly something on display that will catch your eye and keep you wondering as you walk throughout the exhibit, which is located at the intersection of East Lockwood and Bompart avenues on the ground of the Eden Seminary campus.

During a gathering held at the exhibition last week, Donaldson, along with three other representatives from Webster Arts, gave insight on what makes art within the Webster community so culturally important.

“We have a multifaceted collection of arts that happen in this one small community that makes us special,” she said, noting that Webster has always been an arts-focused community. “Webster, back in the 1940s and ‘50s near Larson Park, used to be a chautauqua, where a lot of artists lived, from painters to poets to writers.”

Over the years, Webster Groves has been recognized as a “city of the arts” due to its numerous art galleries and other world-class cultural offerings such as the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, as well as the artistic presence of working artists and scholars within the community.

Due to the public response after the unveiling, Donaldson believes there’s potential for a “Spring Forward” exhibit in 2022 but can’t say whether the public exhibition was only successful due to the pandemic.

“It’ll be interesting. When life gets back to normal, will people be too busy to participate and just not even care?” she said.

“Spring Forward” runs through Friday, March 26. Following the public display, the artwork will be installed in the Webster Arts Center Gallery, located at 483 E. Lockwood Ave. in Webster Groves.

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Jordan Parker
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